As the Public Service Committee hears a bill in Room
B-2 that will give more power to the Speaker of the House, a bill is
being heard by the Election Laws
Committee in Room A-1 that will take power away from the citizens of
Senate 362 will dramatically increase the number of
signatures required (from 65,825 registered voters to 99,316, for an
initiative statute, and to 119,180 for an initiative constitutional
amendment.) Since it is almost impossible already for ordinary citizen
groups to get the required number of signatures, this will keep many
worthwhile issues off the ballot. Those few that are very well-funded
may have a chance, if they use paid petitioners, but grassroots citizen
groups will be out of luck. Further, city and town clerks may not have
time to certify the extra number of signatures in time to meet
If this amendment had been in effect in 1980, there
would be no Proposition 2½. CLT got barely enough signatures to get its
tax limitation measure on the ballot.
We failed by very few signatures in our first attempt to put a roll back
of the "temporary" income tax on the 1998 ballot when our
opponents challenged our signatures in court.
Other provisions fix something that isnt broken. A
commission would draft the ballot question title and summary that are
now drafted by the Secretary of State and Attorney General. CLT
activists have placed several questions on the ballot over twenty years,
with no complaint about the title or summary with the professionals in
either office. The provision that could give control of these vital
pieces of information to pollsters is absurd.
The provision for a ballot question impact statement,
drafted by legislators and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, is a
provision for imaginative fabrication of numbers that cannot possibly be
objectively determined at the time the ballots are printed.
Senate 362 is a proposed constitutional amendment, so
the only way it can pass is if citizens vote to make themselves
powerless. This is why its drafters have not filed a direct repeal of
the citizens initiative. To trick voters, the amendment contains a
provision that gives petitioners more time to get signatures. People who
have never run a petition drive might think that letting volunteers
collect signatures in July and August would be useful. It would not.
Filing the petition earlier in June also prevents
citizens from addressing issues in the state budget, which will not yet
have passed. For these and other reasons ...
CLT will fight to kill the amendment to kill the citizens
For more information
and S-363 visit our website.